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How to Do Summer Festival Style Successfully

You bought your tickets in winter, booked your hotel and plane ride, and are getting ready for a weekend of nothing but music and parties. Maybe there’s some EDM or a bunch of folk music. Or, as with Coachella and Glastonbury, there’s intentionally a mixed bag spread out over several tents. Any and all ways, you’ll be out in the sun, sweating it up, and seeing some of your favourite artists over a single weekend. But, if you’ve ever been to a summer festival, it’s easy to under-dress and get sunburned – or simply look ridiculous. Or, you over-do it and spend it all wearing jeans that feel too heavy and awkward. And, when you return to take a shower, you wonder just where all that dirt came from. Between these two extremes, all while avoiding impractical costumes, beaded rave masks and kitschy, ironic boho fashion, get ready for your next hedonistic weekend with these basics.

Your Shirt  

You’ve got two rules to follow. One, keep it light and low-maintenance – so, nothing you won’t mind getting a little dirt or a small stain on. Second, keep away from the neon bro tanks. They’re an EDM festival staple, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to look like a frat boy doused in Day-Glo paint. With these in mind, a standard T-shirt is good as anything. Though, for expressing a bit of style, look for a straight fit – nothing too baggy – and consider a graphic or patterned choice. As an upgrade, look for a lightweight but rugged button-down – nothing that’ll rip too easily. Chambray’s a good choice, as is any short-sleeve cotton shirt seen here. The key here, though, is your skin still needs to breathe, and your body should be able to move.

Have a Jacket 

“There’s too much sun,” you say. “The weather looks good, and it’ll be warm. Why should I bring one?” Those who’ve been to at least one festival know, it’s on rain or shine, and only the artists really have a canopy over them. Too, if you’ve ever been to Miami’s Ultra Music Festival in March, all that Florida afternoon sun quickly turns into a chilly evening in the city. Your shorts and T-shirt won’t cut it. As with your shirt, lightweight and low-maintenance shape what you’ll take along. As a baseline, think about a bomber or track jacket that can get a little dusty. As a step up, consider a low-weight tech jacket with some degree of water and stain resistance. If weight’s an issue, go in the packable direction – specifically, a rain jacket that folds into its own pouch that you can stash in your rucksack. It barely takes up any weight – seriously, most are just a couple of ounces – and at a moment’s notice, you’ve got a basic waterproof shell to keep you dry and watching the show through the downpour.

Basic Shades 

By this, we mean your Ray-Bans should likely stay at home. Otherwise, if they slip off your face, they’ll be cracked in no time flat. Instead, look for Ray-Ban-like style: Classic, simple, and versatile and on a budget (the sames goes for watches). Depending upon where you are, picking up a pair under £10 is fairly easy: Sporting goods places tend to have a standard selection of black and metallic Wayfarers, Aviators and Clubmasters. Going ultra-cheap? Find a wear-it-once pair on the rack at your local pharmacy, or if you’re by the shore, any T-shirt shop’ll do. You simply need UV protection and something to block the afternoon glare, and any basic frame will suffice.

Trousers or Shorts 

Rule of thumb: Give the forecast a check before you pack. You don’t want to be boiling hot in your chinos, but cooler temperatures when you’re sporting knee-length shorts might mean you’ll have to go home earlier than planned. As well, if the weather ahead seems a bit mixed, bring along a few pairs of both. In any case, keep it lightweight and stretchy. On the shorts end, the Vans Authentic Stretch makes a solid template: Versatile enough to match with anything, and designed to move right along with you, whether you join the shuffle circle at Electric Daisy Carnival or hang back to listen to the music at Glastonbury. For trousers, full-length chinos or joggers, assuming they’re made out of a lightweight cotton blend, fit the season.


Like your sunglasses, these are equal parts style and sun protection. A snapback or a dad cap is better than nothing, while a bucket hat at least adds all-around shade, thanks to the brim. Plus, the latter gives off an old-school rave vibe, should you find yourself in the Dance tent. In these instances, those tech properties come in handy. UPF fabric prevents the top of your head from getting burnt when you’re out in the sun for a few hours. As well, moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials - or at least a headband - reduce that sticky, damp sensation on your brow. And, with vents in key areas, whatever you’re sporting will at least keep your head cool. As one course of action, consider an active cap over something simply trendy or fashionable.


Style wise, you might be temped to sport your white kicks. And, why wouldn’t you be? Practically every menswear and streetwear website have a round-up of the season’s must-wear styles. But, consider this: After three days outdoors, all that dirt and scuffs are going to show. And, unless you’re after that worn, ultra-broken-in look, your trainers will require some serious cleaning afterwards. It’s not quite worth it, so settle for something darker – navy, black, or brown. Essentially, it should camouflage the dirt and make the wear less obvious. As well, go for breathable fabrics: Those classic Converse high-tops, or even a canvas skate shoe is enough, as is an active shoe with mesh paneling. Sandals might seem logical, but you’ll be dealing with rocks and dirt in your footbed, and all the irritation that comes with them. Boots, too, look a bit impractical. While you’ll have enough protection when the ground gets muddy, you’ll be lugging them around and feeling the heat, until you take them off at the end of the night.

Ivan Yaskey

Philadelphia’s streetwear scenes and working as a copywriter for a Boston-based menswear brand sparked Ivan's passion for fashion and style more than a decade ago.



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